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The difference between health and wellness

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wellnessLike most other websites that share resources about common medications and the conditions they treat, we tend to concentrate primarily on health – healthcare, disorders, diseases, treatment or cures, medication developments, and many other aspects of healthcare. But there are differences between health and wellness.

Dictionary definitions of “Health” and “Wellness” tend to muddy the waters because, in most cases, the two words are treated as synonyms with the same underlying meaning. But, it is possible to enhance one’s sense of wellness while also improving one’s health.

The main differences between health and wellness.

Essentially, a “healthy person” does not suffer from disorders, diseases, infirmities, weakness, feebleness, fragility, incapacity, impairment, or illness. Fundamentally, health is somewhat passive. Sometimes, despite the best efforts of people, their family, and their healthcare providers, a person may fall sick or face health challenges. These challenges can arise from genetic factors, unexpected accidents, or environmental causes outside their control.

Wellness, however, is proactive and assertive. It encompasses a person’s daily lifestyle choices and their state of mind. It also reflects on the foods they eat, their exercise, the steps they take (or don’t take) to relieve stress, and the social environment they build around themselves. It’s about how a person can recognize their current state and take positive steps to improve and optimize it, aiming for a balanced life.

While health can be considered a binary state (sick vs. healthy), wellness is a spectrum that extends beyond just physical well-being. Wellness includes the emotional, intellectual, spiritual, environmental, financial, social, and occupational aspects of our lives. 

Examples of the differences between health and wellness.

Picture “Healthy José.” He hasn’t needed to visit a doctor for years, feels no physical discomfort, and needs no medication to sleep well, eat whatever he wants, enjoy sex and play active sports.  José, by all definitions, is considered “healthy.” However, suppose José has times of high stress in his daily life, either from conflicts at work or disagreements at home, is not eating healthy food, overindulges in alcohol or recreational drugs, and doesn’t have time to socialize because of the demand on his time. It’s a challenge to call him “well.” 

On the other hand, picture “Wellness Wanda,” who was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes but has been under careful care and monitoring for many years. Wanda exercises moderately and regularly, carefully follows the recommended balanced diet, is benefitting from progress in medicines that treat her disorder, practices meditation or attends religious services often, and has a robust social support system; you must say that while Wanda is not strictly “healthy,” she does seems to be quite “well.”

Health is undeniably a precious gift, a foundation on which we build our lives. However, wellness is the art of living we build with that foundation. It’s the conscious, self-directed, and evolving process of achieving our fullest potential. 

Ten steps to make you feel well (even if you don’t consider yourself healthy).

  1. Make Quiet Time Each Day

Allow a few moments daily for reflection and stillness to ground you. Techniques such as meditation, journaling, or just sitting quietly with a cup of tea will allow these moments of regeneration. When the weather allows, spending time outside can add tremendously to a person’s sense of self. During these times, the mind can listen to the inner self and process all the feelings and emotions that get jarred by the pressure of daily life.

Lightbox with motivation words for self care, positive thinking, mental health, emotional wellness

  1. Take Care of Yourself 

Taking care of yourself isn’t self-indulgent or a luxury; it’s necessary. Self-care can be as simple as reading a book, enjoying a creative project, or taking a relaxing bath. Do the things that help you to get your mind to an easy, open place. Self-care is all about making choices that allow you to feel mentally and emotionally replenished. When your needs are met, it is much easier to manage whatever challenges life sends your way. 

  1. Get Enough Sleep

Sleep is the foundation of wellness. It’s the body’s “reboot,” stopping unwanted processes that could consume all of the body’s mental and physical resources. Sleep aids repair and rejuvenation. Aim to get, on average, 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep each day in an environment conducive to rest. 

A short break in the middle of the day can be as beneficial as a good night’s rest. A centuries-old yoga nidra practice has resurfaced as non-sleep deep rest or NSDR. The main difference between NSDR and meditation is that meditation is more about redirecting and focusing a person’s thoughts and cultivating awareness. Non-sleep deep rest is a controlled breathing process in which a person focuses only on how to breathe in a regular pattern, and the mind is free to go wherever or anywhere. 

In the end, if a person has difficulty getting the right amount of sleep at the right time, getting support from some available and very gentle sleep aids can be helpful. The body needs the cooperation of several hormones to fall asleep. If there’s a deficiency or your body is out of tune with the need for sleep, such as when you fly across multiple timelines, boosting the levels of melatonin, the body’s sleep inducer, can overcome the problem quickly.

  1. Select Healthcare Providers You Have Faith In

The doctors, consultants, and pharmacists you listen to play a central role in a person’s wellness growth. Select those aligned with your needs and preferences and who understand your concerns and will actively collaborate with you to create a personalized wellness plan.

  1. Get Enough Exercise

Regular physical activity helps release endorphins (the feel-good hormones), manage weight, and boost overall health. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days.

  1. Prioritize movement

Not all exercises fit everybody. But just about everybody can move. Reframe the idea of exercise, which can feel rigid and out of reach for many people, and think about movement. It could be gentle stretching, a walk around the block, yoga in your living room, or dancing in the kitchen. It doesn’t really matter how you move; just find the style of movement that works for you and your unique lifestyle. Make movement a daily priority and shake it up! 

  1. Get Socially Active

People need people. That’s the way it’s always been. Meaningful connections, engaging in social activities, and simply spending time with people you care for and care for you will create a sense of belonging and enhance mental well-being. 

  1. Eat a Balanced Diet

Man ist was Man isst! (You are what you eat.) A balanced mix of proteins, healthy fats and carbohydrates, and plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can fuel the body’s needs and nourish it accordingly without leaving cravings and deficiencies.

  1. Look Forward with Optimism Gratitude Meditation Hand Gesture

Embrace challenges, seek new experiences, and be open to growth. By cultivating a growth mindset, one can foster resilience and adaptability and develop a zest for living.

  1. Embrace Gratitude

Whenever possible, focus on the great things around you, not just the challenges. Toes that can wiggle, a morning bird’s song, a washing machine that isn’t broken, a smile… Keep a scorecard of unequivocally good things. Try to make recognizing life’s simple gifts a regular event. This positive practice elevates mood, fosters optimism and joy, and magnifies the beauty in everyday life.

Dictionary definitions of health and wellness

Dictionary Health Wellness
Merriam-Webster the condition of being sound in body, mind, or spirit, especially freedom from physical disease or pain the quality or state of being in good health, especially as an actively sought goal
Oxford English the soundness of the body; that condition in which its functions are duly and efficiently discharged. The state or condition of being well or in good health, in contrast to being ill;
Wiktionary the state of being free from physical or psychological disease, illness, or malfunction; wellness The quality or state of being in good health.


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